Album Review: Choke Chains, S/T

Choke Chains, S/T (Slovenly Recordings/Black Gladiator, 1/29/16)

Full throttle, stridently miscreant rock and/or roll from Michigan’s Choke Chains.  Hints of proto-punk standard bearers The Stooges and Electric Eels, garage idols The Sonics and newer bands like Rocket From the Crypt can be heard throughout (perhaps unsurprising, given the band features alumni of bands like The Dirtbombs and Bantam Rooster), but the band makes room for their own, individual spin.

The groove-centered, r&b swagger on display is infectious, though the music feels more in the ‘punk’ vein than straight garage.  There are some cool production touches, too – the heavy, loose-stringed bass sound is great (particularly on “Let’s Try Suicide”), and the sax stylings on the understated “Rock, Paper, Rapist” are a welcome addition to the sound.  In case you hadn’t already surmised, the band like to play with tongues firmly implanted in cheek – other titles include “Cracked Dracula”, “Moisture Detective” and “Safe Word”.

Eruditely-monikered lead singer Thomas Jackson Potter’s vocals are heavily muffled on many tracks, painting an image of the band bashing away in a supposedly “abandoned”, makeshift practice space, while Potter screams for recognition (vengeance?) from an underground bunker – or maybe that’s just me…  Other tracks lift the veil a bit, with “Random Number Generator” even featuring a hint of – !!!- falsetto.  Throughout, Potter displays charisma to match the band’s assured playing.

The album is out now through the excellent Slovenly Recordings (via their Black Gladiator imprint).  Get to know the band on fbook and on their bandcamp page. While you’re at it, check out the meaty (sorry) vid for “Safe Word”, below, and catch them at their upcoming March 26 gig at the UFO Factory in Detroit, if you’re able – here’s hoping for a tour!

Highlights include: “She Collects Calendars”; “Safe Word”, “Rock Paper Rapist”.

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